Why Daylight Saving Time?

Here we are again. Another first Monday after the annual ritual of springing ahead. Why do we do this to ourselves? Or more importantly, why are we forced to do so? Why do we rather arbitrarily have to adjust our internal clocks back and forth? Like a little time teeter totter.

I read a great comment on the subject today, “I resent the fact that some authority figure has tinkered with our time. Tinkered definition: to busy oneself with a thing without useful results. I think that sums up daylight saving time.” There may have been a time when it was necessary or had more pronounced advantages, but given all the varied schedules people now lead, it seems to me it should be a thing of the past.

In an article about Stress Management, Elizabeth Scott, M.S. wrote, “Actually, sleep experts and the research they cite does indeed point to certain dangers. On average, it’s estimated that people go to work or school on the first Monday of Daylight Saving after sleeping 40 fewer minutes than normal. And recent studies have found there’s a higher risk of heart attacks, traffic accidents and workplace injuries on the first Monday of Daylight Saving.”

Psychologist Stanley Coren, Ph.D., from the University of British Columbia has written that, “Although it is only an hour of sleep difference, psychological researchers have identified a clear relationship between losing an hour of sleep and an increase in fatigue and traffic accidents. In addition, some researchers believe that losing that one hour of sleep can have the same effect as a three-hour jet lag.” He reported his research in The New England Journal of Medicine “showing a 7 percent increase in traffic accidents the day after Daylight Savings Time and a 7 percent decrease in accidents in the Fall when the clocks return to Standard Time.”

I’ve also read that contrary to the professed goals for implementing daylight saving, there can actually be increased energy consumption instead of the intended reduction. Apparently, with more after work daylight, there tends to be increased gasoline consumption as more people are out and about. In Indiana, when they finally agreed to go with daylight saving time in 2005, they in fact had a net increase in energy use. It’s believed to be thanks to greater/longer use of air-conditioners as a result of the longer warm daylight hours.

You can always find statistics to support opposing views, but if there’s even a chance that the scale tips the other way, that we are made worse off because of daylights saving and not better, why are we still springing ahead and falling back? Instead of ceasing the practice, we added about a month of circadian rhythm manipulation in 2007.

It seems like once we start doing something, no matter what it is, whether personally or nationally, once something is in motion, it’s inordinately harder to stop doing it, than if we’d never started it at all. Inertia of life I suppose. It’s almost as if we’re scared to stop something that’s been done in the past, as if doing so is an admission we’d been doing something wrong all this time. While it may be, it may also just be circumstances, or our perceptions of them, that are different now. So let’s stop tinkering with time, and have not only the prerogative to change our mind, but the courage to do so as well. And hey, we might even get a little more sleep too.

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